10 Lessons I Learned After Getting Published
Improve your writing. I won’t lie to you. It has been a long road for me. That was what I thought I was going to do when I joined F-Story, a place for writers to improve their writing technique. I can’t argue the fact that I did improve my vocabulary in the four short months I spent on F-Story. I learned some punctuation and verb usage as well, but nothing that E.B. White or an English book couldn’t teach me.
What is the draw? Post a piece of writing and immediately get writing critique from other members. This is good, because isn’t that what all writers want? We want honest feedback about our writing. Is it good or is it bad? Could I really get an honest opinion with suggestions on how to make my writing better? I was hooked, and for less than ten bucks a month I could post two pieces of writing a day and get at least two or three reviews and comments about my work.
Within three weeks of being a member on the site, I had an exploding profile, and I was rising within the ranks. The excellent rating was awesome, and the five, and often six stars fit real well with my exploding status, as well as stroking my oversensitive ego. I was on top of the world, and my writing was outstanding.
Do I need to mention what a fool idiot I was? It didn’t take long to find out that everyone on the site who would put the time and effort into reading to make the F-Story monopoly money to promote their work would share the same exploding status as me. It all depended on how much time and effort you wanted to put into writing reviews.
It didn’t take me long to realize after I gave a meticulous review most people didn’t really want my recommendations and balked at the thought of receiving anything less than five stars. I wanted to give the writers good, honest feedback about the piece that I was reading. I found that I was spending six to eight hours, and sometimes even more than that, a day to read poems and stories for fellow writers to give my honest detailed review. This cut way into my writing time. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I fell into that 5-star rating for a spell, too. Please don’t tell me my piece of work is anything less than excellent.
I met some people, just like the ones anyone meets in social network forums. A lot of nice friendly people and even bonded and formed personal relationships, so I thought. The thing that I was trying not to do was to treat F-Story – a serious writing forum like every other social network where everyone wants to be your friend. I tried to treat it like a job. My bad.
I don’t care what anyone tells you and what anyone says about internet forums and social networks. We are people and it is our inherent nature to care about ourselves and what we ourselves want to accomplish in life. People will tell you they are your friend and how great you are and suddenly you fall under the Machiavellian of people, which I did. I believed what people told me, and I trusted people I had never met in person.
After four months of playing the game of rising in the ranks of F-Story, letting my housework, bills, and physical relationships slide, and not really doing any writing, I finally realized it was a bad addiction. A very bad addiction. Almost like a drug addiction. The whole thing came to light when I read a poem of a concept I had shared with one of my F-Story friends who took the idea and wrote it in their own words, and rose higher in the ranks than me.
So here I am again, playing with social media and sharing with friends. Forgetting the lessons I learned at F-Story. But the big difference is I’m published. I can now say I have published a novel and I am an author. It has been my life long goal and a huge accomplishment for me because it has been my dream forever. As with any goals being accomplished, the time is right for new goals to be set.
These are some of the things I have learned and I would like to share them with you who are trying to become published. These are important things to keep in mind when you are setting your goals. So important that I’m going to remember them while I’m setting my new goals.
Top ten things I learned from getting my first novel published.
1. Do not let people tell you what is best for you and your book. Only you know this.
2. Take your time and proof, proof, proof. Have friends, relatives, and co-workers read your book for typos and context errors. No matter how many times you try to proof the book on your own, YOU will miss mistakes.
3. Research, research, research. There is a boat-load of information out there and no one is going to give it to you for free. But if you look hard enough, you can find it for free.
4. Be patient.
5. Promote yourself as well as your book. Don’t expect that just because you have a lot of friends and family they are going to promote you and your book for you. They are not.
6. If you make a mistake, brush it off, learn from it, don’t do it again.
7. Just because someone else has more experience in the world of publishing and writing than you do doesn’t mean they are better than you. Anyone can write a book, and anyone can publish a book. But only good story tellers can write a book well.
8. Have confidence in yourself and in your writing. If you are you are writing because you enjoy writing, it will show in your work. If you are doing it to make money, get over yourself.
9. Set a schedule and stick to it. Write every day. The only way to make yourself better at something is to do it. (Perfect practice makes perfect.)
10. Do not become enthralled with social media. Use it to promote yourself and your book and leave it at that.
Above all like what you do, like yourself and don’t let others try to tell you how you can do it better. If they’re so smart tell them to write their own book.
My new novel The Salt-Water Killings is in the works.